Posts Tagged ‘The FED’


The Fed just put global financial markets on notice

Federal Reserve Chair Janet YellenREUTERS/Joshua RobertsFederal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

The Fed didn’t budge.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rates pegged at 0.25% to 0.50% — as was expected.

So, effectively, not much has changed.

But the Fed made a key change to make clear that it would be “closely monitoring” developments in global financial markets.

Here’s the key sentence (emphasis added):

The Committee is closely monitoring global economic and financial developments and is assessing their implications for the labor market and inflation, and for the balance of risks to the outlook.

The Fed also said that it would keep an eye on international developments as it examines the possibility for raising rates in the future (emphasis added):

In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.

When it comes to the Fed’s decisions, generally, its main concern is the US economy. So, often we don’t hear much about its thoughts on what’s going on overseas except for a few mentions in the minutes from each meeting, released three weeks after the initial statement.

But it looks like the Fed is once again eyeing what’s happening abroad as it is materially affecting businesses that make up the US economy.

“Although one could argue they are always monitoring global economic and financial conditions, the phrase ‘closely monitoring’ has traditionally been associated with a Fed that is quite concerned about current events. Combining this phrase with the removal of the phrase which noted that risks are ‘balanced’ highlights the uncertainty within the Committee,” according to UBS economist Drew T. Matus.

“These add up to a FOMC that, while still not willing to remove the option of going in March, is acknowledging conditions that may prevent them from doing so. Indeed, this statement could be read as making the FOMC that much more data dependent heading into the March meeting,” he continued.

Notably, the Fed previously included language about “monitoring developments abroad” in September after a rocky summer — although they subsequently took it out in December.

So now, given that the markets were quite volatile in January and various big US businesses such as Apple pointed in “softness” abroad, it’s not entirely surprising that the Fed again included such a reference.

Still, it’s worth acknowledging that this time around, the Fed’s tone was less intense.

“Note how much more benign the statement [this time] sounds than the warning that was included in the September 17, 2015 policy statement,” observed Credit Suisse’s Dana Saporta.

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